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I remember watching a lot of Benson episodes with my whole family.  I hope to one day watch all the episodes.  Robert Guillaume and his character, Benson have always been great people to model yourself after.  They both did great things and did it while following most moral rules.


Format: Sitcom

Created by: Susan Harris

Starring Robert Guillaume, James Noble, Inga Swenson, Missy Gold Rene Auberjonois (1980-86), Ethan Phillips (1980-85), Jerry Seinfeld (1980-81), Caroline McWilliams (1979-81), Didi Conn (1981-85), Lewis J. Stadlen (1979-80), Billie Bird (1984-86)

Country of origin: United States

No. of seasons: 7 No. of episodes: 158 (List of episodes)

Production Running time: 24-25 Minutes


Original channel: ABC

Original run: September 13, 1979 Ė April 19, 1986

The show is an American television sitcom which aired from September 13, 1979 to April 19, 1986 on ABC. The character of butler Benson DuBois, played by Robert Guillaume, had originally appeared on the soap opera parody Soap.

Series summary

Benson is hired to manage things for the Governor Eugene Gatling (James Noble)  I thing that's the same as the gun.  The Governor is a little goofy and unorganized.  He has a daughter, Katie (Missy Gold).  Jessica Tate, a character from Soap was Governor Gatling's cousin.  So Benson is a spin off of Soap.  I'm learning.  I may be wrong but I'm going with that story for now.....the thing about Benson being a spin off of Soap; not the learning thing.  We never find out what state the Governor is Governor of.  Soap was set in Connecticut but that doesn't mean that has to be state for this show.  The Governor gets things done when they have to be, even though we generally don't think he will. 

One of the shows focuses is on the fights between Robert Guillaume's character, Benson and Inga Swenson's character, Gretchen Kraus.  We are also kept entertained by Benson's interactions with the Governor's chief of staff John Tayler (Lewis J. Stadlen).   Later the chief of staff character was Clayton Endicott III (Rene Auberjonois).    Auberjonois was a counselor type character on Star Trek.  I think the character was Odo.  Benson and Kraus eventually become friends.  Benson and the Governorís secretary, Marcy Hill (Caroline McWilliams), are also good friends.  Denise (Denise Conn), who replaced Marcy, also got along really well with Benson.  Marcy left the show shortly after she got married (midway through the series).  Benson got along with most people.

Benson quickly improved his status, career-wise.  He was head of household affairs, state budget director, and then ended up as the Lieutenant Governor.  In the ending episodes of the show we find Robert Guillaumeís character running for governor against Gatling.  Kraus also moved up the ladder by becoming the head of household affairs and then state budget director.  She was Bensonís biggest supporter when he ran for governor.  Benson made her his personal assistant and campaign manager. 





Click here for a great Benson video clip.


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Series finale

At the end of the series we get mixed messages about why Gatling didnít run for re-election.  At first it looks like he didnít run because of term limits.  Later we find out he can run if he runs as an independent candidate, which he did.  Benson had already won the nomination of Gatlingís party by the time Gatling finally agreed to run.  Benson and Gatling had to run against each other.

At the end of the seriesí final episode (seventh season finale), Benson and Gatling are close in the poles.  The race for governor caused there to be a lot of tension between them.  They decide to make peace with each other.  We see them watching the results on television but we never get told who won.  Soap also ended with unresolved conflicts.  Guillaume had moved to Benson before Soap ended. 


According to the Internet Movie Database there were three possible endings.  Gatling could win.  Benson could win.  The other option was to have a wildcard candidate win.  This wildcard would be a crooked senator.  The final decision was to leave the ending unresolved.  An interview on the first season DVD claimed that Benson won the race.


Nielsen Ratings

1979-1980 Season: #23

DVD Release

On July 24, 2007, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released Season 1 of Benson on DVD in Region 1 for the first time.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date The Complete First Season 24 July 24, 2007


Over the course of the show's seven-year run it was nominated for a total of 17 Emmys. It won two, including Best Actor in a Comedy Series for Guillaume's second-to-last season portraying the title character.


The exterior shots of the governor's mansion are actually of a private home located at 1365 South Oakland Ave. in Pasadena, California. The same house was used briefly in the 1993 movie The Beverly Hillbillies, and was more recently used 2006 in a U.S. television commercial for the RE/MAX real estate company.


Click here for a great Benson video clip.


Jerry Seinfeld appeared on Benson in 1980 as a delivery guy who wanted to become a stand up comedian.  The characterís name was Frankie.  Seinfeld was fired shortly after his first appearance.  He claims that he wasnít given any reason for being fired.  He learned of his firing when he showed up for a script rehearsal and didnít have a script. 

Ted Danson played a character named Dan.  He married Bensonís secretary, Marcy.  The next year he started as a cast member of Cheers.  Iíve been told by the other people under this rock that Cheers did okay.  The John Taylor character, played by Lewis J. Stadlen, was written out of the show after the first season.  The story was that he quit so he could run for political office.  He even thumbed his nose at Gatling's support.

On February 22, 1985 ("Scenario") the internet is mentioned for the first time.  It is actually the first time on Benson but also the first time on American network television.  Their version of the internet was called ARPANET, which came before the internet in real life.  The ARPANET used by the US government to communicate with the military.

Miscellaneous continued

Two actors from Benson were regulars on Star Trek.  Ethan Phillips was Neelix (Voyager) and Rene Auberjonois was Odo (Deep Space Nine).  Robert Picardo, who played the Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager, appeared on a two part episode of Benson.  The episode was "Reel Murder" and it was in the seventh season. 

Swenson and McWilliams were recurring characters on Soap before joining the Benson cast.  Guillaume's character was a continuing character on Benson but both Swenson and McWilliams played new characters.  Their characters were similar in personality to the characters they played on Soap. 

Benson, the show, deals with death a bunch of times.  In the pilot we find that the Governor's wife is eaten by horses because she had worn a costume that was covered in sugar cubes.  Benson dies in one episode and is given a choice to go to heaven or finish his life on Earth.  He first chooses to go to Heaven but changes his mind when he sees the mess he would be leaving behind on Earth.  An actual Death character appears on the show and ends up challenging Benson to a game.   Benson gambled his life to save a schoolbus full of children. 

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